A Queer Safe List of South Asian Films That Move Away From Inaccurate Representations

A Queer Safe List of South Asian Films That Move Away From Inaccurate Representations

Representation is not always token activism and is quintessential for an entire generation of a community to look to for comfort and a sense of belonging. Media and television play a vital role in shaping or breaking someone’s confidence in their individuality. Spotting a character in a movie that mirrors your sense of self and looks like you, often positively impacts an individual’s idea of their identity.

Growing up we’ve seen movies and shows that rarely, and many times inaccurately, depicted queer characters. It was difficult to spot equitable representation in mainstream media and television. What often went unnoticed were queer centred films that ensured respectful representation and constructed a character that felt like home for queer individuals of many generations.

Image Courtesy: Scroll.in

I. Fire

Romance in the 90s had a staple script. Nothing too out of the ordinary with frequent occurrences of love at first sight, casual stalking and a love story for the stars and beyond. In the times of peak Bollywood sanctioned love, came the film Fire.

A 1996 movie directed by Deepa Mehta depicting the romance between two sister-in-laws. For the era that Bollywood was immersed in, this movie was a breakthrough for queer cinema wherein it made space for more lesbian centric films to emerge.

Shabani Azmi and Nandita Das portrayed the characters in a way that did not make them seem any different from the people around us, pushing the idea that normalising is the goal rather than dehumanising or even glorifying.

Image Courtesy: Indian Express

II. Funny Boy

Funny boy is a Sri Lankan movie revolving around the romance of a Sinhalese and Tamil man amidst the Sri Lankan Civil War. Directed by Deepa Mehta, the film portrays conflict of sexuality and religion. It depicts the layered nature of the obstacles faced by the two people in love, navigating war and forbidden love.

It shows contrast in two spheres, one wherein the religiously privileged rich families live lavish and protected lives and on the other hand, the grim lives of the minorities. The other being the struggle of an individual trying to come to terms with their sexuality in a heteronormative structure of society.

Image Courtesy: London Film Festival

III. My Son is Gay

A movie that shows the journey that individuals whose loved ones come out, take to accept and express empathy to queer individuals. A beautiful move depicting how acceptance of queer individuals require nothing but, an open mind and a heart full of love. Varun, a teenager grappling with the task of coming to terms with his sexuality, also navigates coming out to his family and friends and finding comfort in their reactions.

It displays the shift in the mother’s behaviour after knowing her son’s sexuality. Her journey of breaking her own prejudices and allowing love to overcome fear of what is unknown to her, is what makes the movie real and relatable to most queer individuals handing their relationships with their family.

Image Courtesy: New York Times

IV. Kapoor and Sons

Despite being a mainstream Bollywood film, Kapoor and Sons is breath of fresh air in the industry’s depiction of queer individuals. Fawad Khan plays Rahul Kapoor, the perfect son to Siddharth Malhotra’s imperfect son.

Portrayed as the flawless child throughout the movie, who receives unconditional love and acceptance from his parents, he hides his identity as a gay man. When he comes out involuntarily, we see a shift in the love that he receives from his mother. We see the reality of most Indian households, wherein most parents find it difficult to accept their own children not following the normative and heterosexual rules of love.

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